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July 1920

The Local 46 minutes began in July 1920 with a motion that instructed the Financial Secretary to attend the stockholders’ meeting of the Mutual Laundry, which Local 46 owned shares in. We were part owners of a newspaper, the Seattle Daily Union Record, and a laundry; these were certainly different times. The situation with the crane jurisdiction was still ongoing, and we withdrew from the Seattle Metal Trades Council for a period of time.

March 1921 Edition - IBEW International Journal

The first article that Local 46 got published in the IBEW International Journal was in the March 1921 edition. It was a lengthy piece about the incoming Local 46 officers and the good work they were going to do, also that members had approved the combining of Financial Secretary and Business Agent (Business Manager today).

1921 Membership Decreases

In the summer of 1921, we elected and sent only one delegate, Frank Tusten, to the 16th IBEW Convention in St Louis, Missouri. In the previous decade our membership more than doubled because of all the shipyard work.

Yet in 1921, our membership rolls plummeted to only 145 members. That meant we lost 80% of our members in two years. Except for the reference to maintaining the Knob and Tube work for our idle members, there were no hints in the minutes as to the reason for this massive membership loss.

We can assume that the shipyards had slowed down after the war production years, and there may have been some residual anti-union feelings due to the 1919 General Strike.

November Meeting - Release of Eugene Debs

At the November meeting it was motioned and carried that Local 46 send a letter to President Harding asking for the release of Eugene Debs. Eugene Debs had run for President of the United States several times on the Socialist Party ticket, and in 1920 had received 915,000 votes, a huge showing for a man who, at the time, was in prison.

Debs was President of the American Railways Union and had been sentenced to 10 years for speaking out against the First World War, under the Espionage Act of 1917.

The members did a very decent thing because President Harding commuted Deb’s sentence by the end of that year.

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January 1922

January 1922, the Business Agent reported that the State Electrical Inspection Service endeavored to retain members of Local 46 to be placed as Inspectors within the city. As well as to keep a check on all contractors who had not filed a bond with the State.

March 9 1922 - The Steamer 'Virginia V'

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On March 9th, 1922, the steamer Virginia V was launched.

The Virginia V is the last of the Mosquito Fleet Steamers (because roads weren’t as plentiful back then, people sailed on these small steamers) and is still sailing on Puget Sound waters today.

She is docked at the South end of Lake Union. The old girl is kept in tip top shape with the help of one of our Union shipyards, Lake Union Drydock.

June 1922 - Husky Stadium

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In the June 1922 minutes there was reference to a contractor wanting some men to finish up a job at the Market. We assume this is the Pike Place Market. In the early 20’s the Market was expanding, so it is only natural that some of our Wiremen would be working down there.

There is also discussion about the work at Husky Stadium. So the Local had some work going on at this time.

Samuel Gompers

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At the December 3rd meeting, a committee was formed to draft a resolution on behalf of Samuel Gompers, the first and longest serving President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), who had recently died.

1925 - Laborers doing Electrical Work?

In 1925, the issue of Laborers doing electrical work came up. The Membership took whatever appropriate action was needed to correct the situation, although we do not know what the action was as the minutes were silent. Hopefully, no one was hurt.

1925 IBEW International Convention

Between August 17th and 21st, the 1925 IBEW International Convention was held in Seattle. Although there is not much mention about the event in the minutes, there is reference to a concern of Local 46 members moving cars at the recently opened Olympic Hotel. Members must have been acting as valets and the discussion was whether the Local should purchase insurance.

There is plenty of discussion about the upcoming convention in the IBEW International Journal. Our Local scribes write glowing articles about Seattle and its many beauties and attractions. We have four delegates attend this convention on Local 46’s behalf: Frank Tusten, Thomas Lee, A. G. Heller and B. F. Gordon. And our membership total is 310. So, Local 46 continues to grow.

Bertha Knight Landes

On March 9, 1926, Bertha Knight Landes (1868-1943) is elected the first and only female Mayor of Seattle. She is also the first woman executive in any major American city.

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August 1927 International Convention

In August 1927, two members, Byron Vicarage and F. P. Corbett, attended the International Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Our membership count is 322, so essentially no growth from two years before.

September 1927

Three delegates, Albert Hemen, Wm. H. Wooley and W. F. Paterson, were elected to represent Local 46 at the 20th IBEW International Convention in Miami, Florida in September 1927. Local 46 continues to grow to 385 members. The organizing effort seems to be having an effect. This is to be the last International Convention until 1941 because of the Great Depression.

July 10, 1928

A motion was made and carried at the July 10, 1928 meeting, instructing the Executive Board that, when a member appeared before them with issues regarding an employer, the member’s name shall not appear in the Executive Board minutes.

January 1929 Wage Increase

Wage increases took effect in January 1929. Journeyman scale rose to $11 per day. It was agreed that all contract work under construction on October 18, 1928 was to be completed at the old rate of $10 per day. Business Manager’s salary was $75 per week and assistants received $65 per week.

November 1929 - Shuffleton Power Plant

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In the November 1929 IBEW Journal an article talks about the Shuffleton Power Plant on the South Shore of Lake Washington where 225 Local 46 Wiremen were employed by a contractor called Stone and Webster. There is also mention of this project in our minutes noting that the conditions were very good.

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Slow down

The excitement of the last decade definitely slowed down going into the 20’s, although there were large social and economic issues on the horizon that affected Local 46 members, like prohibition and the stock market crash of 1929.

January 16, 1920 - Prohibition - the 18th AMENDMENT

This was the decade of prohibition; the 18th Amendment was implemented on January 16, 1920, and was in effect, unbelievably, until 1933.

The Seattle papers of the time were full of articles of raids on houses in places like Magnolia, where they found 50 gallons of moonshine and a still at a house in the Greenlake neighborhood.

This was going on all over the city. The authorities found 30 gallons of Sake in the International District. We’re sure many of our members had stills tucked away and enjoyed a tipple now and again.

January 13, 1921 General Meeting

At the January 13, 1921 General Meeting, it was motioned and carried that Apprentices were to be allowed the same voting privileges as Journeymen.

The following month, the same voting privileges were approved for the Helper classification. Members rejected the motion that they could solicit (pan) their own work though.

Seattle Contractors Association

There is reference to an organization called the Seattle Contractors Association. This must be the organization which eventually became the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

At the May 5th meeting, a motion was made and carried to set aside $500 from the defense fund to carry on the work of retaining the Knob and Tube work and provide work for our idle members.

August 18, 1921 Meeting

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At the August 18, 1921 meeting, the Local members voted to loan $2,500 to the Seattle Daily Union Record, with conditions on being repaid.

At the Local meetings members regularly talked, and had guests talk, about Thomas Mooney and his unfair imprisonment.

December 1921 - Bon Marche' Unfair List!

In December of 1921, James Duncan, the Secretary Treasurer of the Seattle Central Labor Council, addressed the members on behalf of the striking miners.

In addition, he asked the Local to help keep the Bon Marche’ (Macys’ today) on the Local Unfair List. The Local voted to donate $100 to striking miners immediately and set up a monthly donation.

A Local committee is formed to investigate other ways to assist the striking miners.

February 1922 - IBEW President Noonan visits Seattle!

In February, IBEW International President James Noonan was given the floor at the Local General Meeting.

Many other IBEW Locals were in attendance; Local 574 from Bremerton, IBEW Railroad Local 65, and Local 944. When you think about this visit, it is no small endeavor.

The trip made by President Noonan was made by train, across country, from Washington, DC.

May 1922

In May it was motioned and carried that the Local send two delegates to the Farmer-Labor Party convention in June.

March 3, 1923

At the March 3, 1923 meeting, it was motioned and carried to assess members $75.00 if they installed fixtures and apparatus that did not carry a Union label.

The meetings did not seem to last as long as in the previous decade.

August 1923

In August 1923, three Local 46 delegates, T. E. Lee, R. C. Abbot and Frank Tusten, attended the 17th IBEW International Convention in Montreal, Canada.

Our membership role count is now up to 253; our membership has risen by over 100 since our last convention!

Taking the Train From Rockport WA. 

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November 1924

In November of 1924, there was mention in the minutes of an Oil Burner shop needing men. This is the first mention of Local 46 Oil Burner classification.

December 1923-24 - West Spokane Bridge Construction

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In December, the bridge opened to West Seattle and remained the main artery to West Seattle until June 1978, when the freighter “Chavez” crashed into it.

Members started discussing the possibility of owning an office and Hall. It would be another two decades before this dream was finally fulfilled, and how!

During the entire decade, the Ladies Auxiliary is mentioned and reports were given at meetings of Masked Balls, picnics, card games at member homes, day trips and Christmas parties for the kids. These Ladies of the Local always seemed to have plenty going on socially.

June 25, 1925

At the June 25th meeting, it is motioned and carried to send a letter to the contractors informing them of the 40-hour work week and that all overtime was at double time.

Arcade Building

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The Local moved from the Arcade Building to the new Harvey Building. Local 46 and Local 77 appoint members to a committee to see if they can resolve the ongoing issue of jurisdiction of street lighting. Members pass a motion banning smoking and snoose chewing in the new Hall, the smoking ban is later rescinded, but snoose chewing remains banned.

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November 2, 1926

At the November 2, 1926, meeting a letter is read from the AFL appealing for support for the 20,000 Cloak Makers in New York. During the decade the Local is visited by, or a communication is read from many Unions that no longer exist or have been amalgamated into another Union years ago. The Tailors Union, Furniture Salesmen’s Union, Textile Workers, Cigar Makers, The United Hatters of North America, Upholsterers Union, The Full Fashion Hosiery Workers Union, and Iron Molders’ Union. And the list goes on.

Organizing Committee

In September of 1927, a committee was appointed as an Organizing Committee. Their report laid out a dire situation that the Local Members were only doing 50-60% of the available work. The members rejected a resolution to increase the dues for organizing, so the Executive Board wisely set aside $500 for organizing. The committee was relieved of its duties in February of 1928.

January 1928

In January 1928, the Executive Boards’ of Local 46 and 77 agreed that Local 77 would keep all the line work and Local 46 would keep all the inside work. There was a running jurisdictional issue over street lighting and other jurisdictional issues would come up time and time again, and of course it is still an issue in 2014. Such is our trade and Union.

November 1928 - Apprenticeship Program!

In November 1928, the Executive Board agreed upon an apprenticeship program. At this meeting it is motioned and carried (AGAIN) that there would be no smoking or snoose chewing in the new Hall. The smoking ban was rescinded at a later meeting (AGAIN).

The Crash - October 24, 1929

On October 24, 1929, the stock market crash begins (Black Thursday). By October 29th, stocks plummeted and banks started calling in loans (all this sounds very familiar after our recent crash!) An estimated $30 billion in stock value will disappear by mid-November. There is nothing in the minutes about the events around the crash.

Coast to Coast Flights Begin!

As the decade comes to a close, Coast to Coast air service is offered. The flight leaves Boeing Field and arrives in New York 56 hours later. Of course the time includes waiting on the ground for connecting flights. Ah, the Good Old Days! Read on!

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